15.5.5 Enabling Policies, Programmes and Measures
Acceleration of coastal-adaptation technology transfer across organisational
boundaries requires actions at all levels of the process by all stakeholders.
Of the newer institutional developments evolving, the best will be those that
are effective in fostering corporate and community collaborative efforts, while
nurturing positive government-academic-business relationships (Kozmetsky, 1990;
see also Chapter 4 on enabling environment). Common elements
of these new policies, programmes and measures include:
- New governmental technology policies that provide increased support for
helping users to obtain adjust and use technology. This includes major investments
in information infrastructure, in training and education of the workforce
and in outreach and extension services (Brooks, 1993). For example, the U.S.
NOAA Coastal Services Center produces environmental data sets and information
products for coastal managers, provides access to information clearinghouses
for coastal scientists, managers and the public, and conducts technical training
for coastal planners and managers.
- Decisions on technology activities at the national level that are increasingly
made in collaboration with other levels of government and private-sector users.
This may be accomplished by government-sponsored needs assessments (e.g.,
via surveys, stakeholder meetings and workshops). However, it implies that
focal points must exist and be well sited within the national government to
be able to input user needs and capabilities into the decision process.
- Research universities that are becoming more deeply engaged in applied
R&D, and are expanding ways for accelerating technology diffusion to users
at all levels of government and the private sector. Mechanisms that have proven
to be effective include extension services, such as training and guidance
provided by sea-grant colleges in the United States and joint university-business
research parks to promote collective R&D.
- New business alliances with government collaborators to leverage resources
and capabilities. These could include joint projects with consortia of business,
such as those fostered by the Danish Hydraulic Institute.
- Increased involvement of NGOs and trainers who have a sound grasp of social
methodology, understand the concerns of target groups and are able to devise
the most appropriate means for conveying information at the grassroots level.
Other powerful mechanisms to facilitate successful coastal adaptation and technology
transfer are regulation, standards and insurance. For example, the Coastal Barrier
Resources Act in the United States provides protection to coastal barriers by
prohibiting most expenditures of federal funds in these areas, thus strongly
discouraging development. Insurance can have a similar role, although it may
also stimulate maladaptive practices (Box 15.3). Building codes and standards
are covered in Chapter 7, while international performance
standards are discussed in Section 15.6.5.
|Box 15.3 The role of insurance
| In countries with climate-related insurance markets, insurance can have
a positive or a negative role in promoting adaptation to climate change
and any associated technology transfer (Clark, 1998). This may happen directly
via contacts with customers or indirectly as the insurance industry lobbies
institutions. Technology underpins this interaction as improving data management
and modelling capability give the insurance industry more detailed information
of both the risks and opportunities that climate variability and change
present (Crichton and Mounsey, 1997). However, as Clark (1998) argued, more
knowledge may benefit the insurance industry, but it does not necessarily
lead to overall societal benefits. Determining if insurance is acting in
a negative or positive role will depend on the assessment criteria and is
linked with the issue of distinguishing adaptation from maladaptation. Clark
(1998) argued that a government-insurance industry partnership can benefit
both the industry and wider society in terms of reduced exposure to both
climate variability and climate change and maintain the long-term health
of the insurance industry.
At the one extreme, the insurance industry might be involved in the planning
process by using its knowledge to discourage development in hazardous locations.
Information technology is critical for this type of role. At the other extreme,
the insurance industry might simply ignore the problem (i.e., use no technology)
and promote maladaptation by repeatedly providing the resources for redevelopment.
In the short term, this may seem sustainable, but a large natural disaster
may promote sudden withdrawal of insurance and have serious consequences
for coastal property values and general development.
An intermediate approach is to link the availability of insurance to appropriate
regulations on land use in hazardous areas. The U.S. National Flood Insurance
Program (NFIP) offers an example of this approach. It requires information
technology to define the hazardous zone, appropriate building technology
and continuous monitoring of performance (Davison, 1993; OTA, 1993). Training
and technology transfer are an integral part of the NFIP. In return for
obeying the codes, all participating communities are eligible for flood
insurance. Opinions on the success or failure of the NFIP differ. An NFIP
perspective is that as the property stock is progressively replaced and
buildings built to code increase as a proportion of the vulnerable stock,
insured losses will decline significantly relative to a baseline without
the NFIP. A first-order assessment of the impacts of accelerated sea-level
rise suggests that the NFIP can be adapted to this change (FEMA, 1991).
The major deficiency, however, is that erosion is ignored (NRC, 1990; Davison,
1993). An alternative view is that the NFIP is a classic example of maladaptation.
Whichever perspective is correct, the NFIP demonstrates that incentives
and regulations enforced via insurance can promote technology transfer with
large potential benefits.
While the above examples are mainly focused on climate variability, with
appropriate anticipatory measures insurance could be used to encourage adaptation
to climate change, including the necessary technology transfer (e.g., OTA,
1993; Berz, 1998). The insurance industry is increasingly assessing the
potential implications of climate change and where they have a market presence,
their opinion will be an important influence on the timing and nature of